Zhenhua Dang

and 9 more

Organisms have evolved effective and distinct adaptive strategies to survive. Stipa grandis is one of the widespread dominant species on the typical steppe of the Inner Mongolian Plateau, and is regarded as a suitable species for studying the effects of grazing in this region. Although phenotypic (morphological and physiological) variations in S. grandis in response to long-term grazing have been identified, the molecular mechanisms underlying adaptations and plastic responses remain largely unknown. Accordingly, we performed a transcriptomic analysis to investigate changes in gene expression of S. grandis under four different grazing intensities. A total of 2,357 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified among the tested grazing intensities, suggesting long-term grazing resulted in gene expression plasticity that affected diverse biological processes and metabolic pathways in S. grandis. DEGs were identified that indicated modulation of Calvin–Benson cycle and photorespiration metabolic pathways. The key gene´expression profiles encoding various proteins (e.g., Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase, fructose-1,6-bisphosphate aldolase, glycolate oxidase etc.) involved in these pathways suggest that they may synergistically respond to grazing to increase the resilience and stress tolerance of S. grandis. Our findings provide scientific clues for improving grassland use and protection, and identify important questions to address in future transcriptome studies.